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Miami scores late to tie No. 1 St. Cloud

OXFORD, Ohio – Four times Miami fell behind by a goal, and each time the RedHawks generated the equalizer against the top-ranked team in Division I.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Casey Gilling netted the tying goal as MU salvaged a 4-4 draw vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena on Friday despite neither leading nor trailing by more than one.

The Huskies (11-1-1) did earn the extra conference point by winning the single-round shootout.

Making the tie even more impressive is goalie Ryan Larkin was injured midway through the first period and RedHawks (9-6-2) finished with backup Jordan Uhelski in net.

RECAP: It was an eventful first period, with both teams scoring three times including once each in the opening 77 seconds.

Miami’s Scott Corbett (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Robby Jackson put SCSU ahead at the 1:08 mark when he fired a shot from the slot that tricked through Larkin and across the goal line. Originally the call was no call, so play continued, but after the next whistle the play was reviewed a ruled a good goal.

Nine seconds later, Scott Corbett drove to the high slot and appeared to have his shot deflect off a defender’s stick and past goalie Jeff Smith on the glove side.

Josh Melnick won the center-ice draw and Gordie Green sprung Corbett loose by seizing the puck along the boards in traffic.

Jackson put St. Cloud ahead three minutes later when he ripped one from the high slot over the shoulder of Larkin on the power play.

An errant defensive-zone pass by the Huskies from the behind the net slid through the slot to a wide-open Monte Graham, who unloaded for the shorthanded tying goal to make it 2-2 just 80 seconds after St. Cloud State had regained the lead.

The Huskies ahead took a one-goal lead when Patrick Newell fed a pass through both Miami defensemen to Sam Hentges for a one-time rip from the inside edge of the faceoff circle with 6:26 left in the opening frame.

And once again Miami answered, as Gordie Green flipped a two-line pass that was chased by Karch Bachman, who took control of it at the blue line, took two strides and went top shelf just under the far crossbar from the left wing with 2:20 remaining in the first stanza.

The score remained 3-3 until late in the second period when Newell skated in along the left wing boards, cut to center ice – beating two Miami defenders in the process – and backhanding one in to give the Huskies the lead.

Gilling leveled it at four when he intercepted a clearing attempt, passed to himself on the near boards and whipped a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle with 7:06 remaining.

The remainder of regulation, the five-minute 5-on-5 overtime and the five-minute 3-on-3 session did not produce a goal for either side, and the Huskies picked up the third league point on a Jon Lizotte shootout goal after Gilling was denied on this attempt.

STATS: Green led Miami with two points, both on assists, giving him five multi-point games this season, and this was his second time with at least a pair of helpers.

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— It was the first career goal for Graham, and the third in six games for Gilling after he was held scoreless through the first 11.

— Bachman has four markers in his last six contests as he moved into solo control of first on the team with seven.

— Melnick extended his points streak to a team-high four games, and he is 2-3-5 in that stretch. That gives him 98 for his career, with 34 goals and 64 assists.

— Uhelski finished with a RedHawks career-high 31 saves despite coming on in relief. He had three previous starts for Miami but had never stopped more than 24.

— Miami ended the game 0-for-3 on the power play and killed off just one of three SCSU chances. However, the RedHawks did notch a shorthanded goal.

— Despite not winning, St. Cloud State dominated in a couple of key areas. The Huskies were 48-22 on faceoffs and led on the shot counter, 44-30 including 32-17 in the first 40 minutes.

Miami actually led in SOG the final 25 minutes, 13-12.

Here’s the difference in shots: SCSU blocked 22, the RedHawks just eight. Jimmy Schuldt of the Huskies rejected seven himself.

THOUGHTS: Although Miami fell short of a win, this is a huge boost for the program.

Although the process for a young hockey team is more important than the results, the result was a tie vs. the No. 1 team in college hockey three months after conference media slated the RedHawks the worst team in the league.

And the way Miami did it showed the process is working.

The RedHawks weren’t as talented as St. Cloud State, not as deep, not as fast, not as skilled at puck possession.

Miami was shorthanded three times in the first period and lost its starting goalie to an injury less than 10 minutes in. Yet every time the Huskies found the net, the RedHawks answered.

A minute in SCSU scored. Nine seconds later, tie game. Then a minute after the second goal, same. A third time later in the period, all while seemingly nothing was going the RedHawks’ way.

The process has put the team at the threshold of being a really good team just nine months after Miami Marchmageddon.

It’s not just that the RedHawks tied the No. 1 team in the NCAA, playing for the ninth straight weekend, it’s that they are playing the game the right way. Playing physical, battling for pucks along the boards, taking smart angles defensively, getting solid efforts from goaltenders every night.

Miami’s Jordan Uhelski (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Playing to the final whistle regardless of the score.

Miami is very close to becoming a power player in this league again.

— Uhelski. Had to come off the bench cold after Larkin’s injury, and all he did was turn 31 of 33 shots aside including back-to-back point-blank chances at the top of the crease and a handful of others on high-percentage shots.

He also shut down a third-period breakaway.

Even when he’s not playing, he’s contributing by pushing Larkin, who didn’t have tons of competition for the starting job in 2017-18.

Larkin’s save percentage last season was just .886. It’s now .935. Uhelski’s is .910.

Miami’s Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Bachman. It’s one of greatest pleasures of following a college hockey team for a number of years: Watching players improve.

Karch Bachman’s stock seems to rise by astounding intervals every night. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player visibly progress on a night-to-night basis at Bachman’s current rate.

On one shift, he gained the offensive zone with his speed, then when the puck ended up in his corner, he drove an opponent off of it by burying him along the boards, resulting in a sustained attack by the RedHawks.

He’s never been overly physical but it has seemed natural to him recently.

We’re watching the Florida Panthers draft pick develop into a serious force in the NCHC.

— This was one of Jonathan Gruden’s best games. Against the very best in D-I, he got the play started on the Bachman goal. His passing, which has resulted in a number of turnovers early, was extremely accurate and his stick handling was impressive.

— So how about Coach Enrico Blasi holding court with both referees at the beginning of the second period? It actually delayed the start, but the power plays were 3-0 SCSU, with St. Cloud scoring twice on the power play, and a couple of clear penalties against the Huskies were not whistled?

Fantastic move. The result: Zero power plays for St. Cloud the final 45 minutes, three for Miami.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. The top three lines all scored, and Graham added an SHG. And Graham was solid beyond his 4-on-5 goal. Liked the way the lower lines battled in this game. Negatives? Gilling had a chance to clear a puck that ultimately resulted in a St. Cloud goal. Faceoff rate of under .333 is unacceptable.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. The Huskies moved the puck extremely well and it seemed like this corps was slow to react at times. A pass on the third goal got through both Rourke Russell and Grant Hutton, and Bray Crowder was beaten at the blue line, helping the Huskies notch their final tally.

GOALTENDING: B+. Larkin should’ve stopped one of the first two St. Cloud goals but faced 11 shots in under 10 minutes, including a handful of high-quality chances. Uhelski had little chance on his two goals against and he was brilliant otherwise. As mentioned above, he denied a point-blank chance and the ensuing rebound plus shut down a late breakaway.

Miami’s Andrew Sinard (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: D Andrew Sinard was back in for Chaz Switzer, and up front Christian Mohs took the place of Zach LaValle.

Mohs’ play has improved and he is making a case for regular playing time. He has dressed eight times in 17 games this season.

Sinard was the extra skater and has been in the lineup four of Miami’s last five games. Blasi has kept his ice time down.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a fun game to watch, hopefully one of many we’ll see at Cady Arena the balance of the season.

Seeing St. Cloud State live for the first time, it’s easy to understand why it’s No. 1 in the NCAA. But Miami deserved the tie as much as the Huskies did.

The RedHawks wouldn’t quit, which is becoming a theme with this team.

Win or lose, Miami plays hard for 60 minutes, or in this case 65. Or 70 counting the 3-on-3.

Regardless of the game length, the RedHawks Version 2018-19 certainly battle from start to finish.

That’s a major reason Miami is carrying an above-.500 record into December for the first time in four years, which was same season the RedHawks carried a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament.

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Preview: Miami at New Hampshire

These teams have not met since New Hampshire knocked Miami out of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and have only faced each other 12 times in their history.

The RedHawks’ first-ever NCAA Tournament win came against the Wildcats in 2007.

MU has logged four previous games in Durham, and after losing the first two came away with a win and a tie their last trip here in 2010-11, coincidentally the same season the RedHawks lost to UNH in the regional semifinal.

BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:

WHO: No. 19 Miami RedHawks (9-5) at New Hampshire Wildcats (1-6-3).

WHERE: Whittemore Center (6,501), Durham, N.H.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday – 7 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: New Hampshire leads, 6-5-1.

LAST MEETING: New Hampshire won, 3-1 in a first-round 2011 NCAA Tournament game.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NEW HAMPSHIRE RADIO: WGIR-AM (610), Binghamton, N.H.; WQSO-FM (96.7), Portsmouth, N.H.; WPKX-AM (930), Rochester, N.H.

NOTES: New Hampshire’s record may look dismal but this team has been competitive in nine of its 10 games.

Four have gone to overtime with two of those being decided in an extra session – including the Wildcats’ long win – and another four were decided by one goal in regulation.

Scoring has been UNH’s main issue. The team has found the net just 20 times or 2.00 per game and the Wildcats’ team shooting percentage is 7.7.

New Hampshire has yet to record more than three goals in a game this season.

Odd stat: The top two points producers on the Wildcats have just one goal each.

Forward Charlie Kelleher and defenseman and Florida Panthers’ draftee Max Gildon has twin 1-9-10 lines.

Jackson Pearce has four goals and four assists, and Ara Nazarian leads the team in markers with five despite missing two games. Nazarian has scored in four straight contests.

Marcus Vela (3-2-5), a San Jose draftee, is the only other UNH skater with at least five points.

The Wildcats’ other NHL draft picks are F Angus Crookshank, F Benton Maass (Washington) and goalies Mike Robinson (San Jose) and Ty Taylor (Tampa Bay).

Robinson is the favorite to start both games, since he leads the team in goals-against average (2.62) and save percentage (.911). He has played in eight of UNH’s 10 contests.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

For the RedHawks, Casey Gilling enters this weekend with five points in his last three games, including a pair of goals. Josh Melnick has 11 in eight.

Ryan Larkin has been in net for nine straight MU contests.

Miami has played just four road games this season and are 2-2 with weekend splits vs. Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College.

This is the second-last non-conference series for the RedHawks, who will travel to Providence in January.

According the UNH’s site, these games will be televised on YouTube. Showing technological naivety here but didn’t realize that was a thing.

Gilling lifts Miami over CC in overtime

In four meetings last season, No. 20 Miami only beat Colorado College once, with that win coming in overtime. In its first win over the Tigers since, the RedHawks again won in an extra session.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Casey Gilling fired home a power play shot from the high slot to lift MU to a 3-2 win over CC at the 2:19 mark of overtime on Saturday as the teams split the weekend series.

The RedHawks (9-5), who led by two after the first period before CC rallied to force the extra session, are now 3-3 in the NCHC, one-quarter of the way through league play.

RECAP: River Rymsha fired a shot from the left point that found its way, opening the scoring for Miami with 5:25 left in the first period.

The RedHawks extended their lead to two four minutes later. Josh Melnick slid a pass between his legs to Scott Corbett, whose shot was denied, but the rebound was backhanded in by Derek Daschke at the top of the faceoff circle.

Colorado College (5-6-1) cut the Miami lead to one four minutes into the second period shorthanded when RedHawks defenseman Alec Mahalak tried to break up a cross-crease pass, but it went in on MU goalie Ryan Larkin, and after he deflected it to side of the net, Mason Bergh banged home the loose puck.

Bergh tied it with 3:49 left in the middle stanza on a one-time blast from the right wing faceoff dot on the power play for his third goal of the weekend.

Corbett was whistled for a penalty with 1:50 remaining in regulation, and Colorado College couldn’t score, but the Tigers took a minor in the extra frame to set up Gilling’s game winner.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Gilling wristed one toward the net but it broke the stick of CC’s Tanner Ockey and came back to Gilling, who snuck one in on the stick side to win it.

STATS: Daschke and Melnick both finished with two points, as Daschke scored once and picked up an assist and Melnick ended up with a pair of helpers.

— Daschke has nine points in nine games and Melnick has 11 in eight games. Melnick also went 22-7 in the faceoff circle.

— Gilling now has seven points in as many contests.

THOUGHTS: A popular mentality is that the altitude catches up to opposing teams on Saturdays when playing a weekend series a mile above sea level, but Miami scored in Minute 122 of this set.

Like Friday, the RedHawks were dominated for portions of this game, especially in the second period, but they still found a way to win.

— Larkin seemed skittish at times in this game but settled down for the stretch run and obviously shut CC out the final 26 minutes. He has allowed exactly two goals in four straight contests.

— Andrew Sinard started the game paired with Bray Crowder but Rymsha took over his defense spot later in the game. Not sure if Sinard was hurt or benched.

— On that note, a full disclosure: I watched this game on NCHC TV but had major internet issues and was reduced to viewing the balance on the phone.

So we’ll keep the opinions to a minimum.

LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Noah Jordan dressed for the third time this season and fellow forward Zach LaValle sat.

Coach Enrico Blasi has gotten away from playing F Carter Johnson and Ds Chaz Switzer and Grant Frederic.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami blew a two-goal lead but won in overtime and is now 3-3 in the league despite playing four of those six games on the road.

The league schedule gets a lot tougher from here so these slow starts aren’t going to fly.

Not as strong of a schedule vs. 2017-18, admittedly, but still: 9-5 after 14 has a good sound.

Slow start dooms Miami at CC

Miami has not been a Friday team this season.

On this particular Friday, the No. 20 RedHawks struggled early, gave up the go-ahead goal late in the second period and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 in the final stanza, culminating in a 2-1 loss at Colorado College.

Miami’s Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami is still 8-5 overall but fell to 2-4 on Friday, meaning the RedHawks are 6-1 on Saturday and Sunday.

Karch Bachman scored the lone goal for MU, tying the score eight minutes into the middle frame.

RECAP: The Tigers (5-5-1) dominated the first 20 minutes and came out of the first period ahead, 1-0.

Trey Bradley took a drop pass in the high slot and fired it on net, and though Miami’s Ryan Larkin kicked it aside, it caromed directly to the goalie’s right where waiting Mason Bergh whipped it in from the bad angle 7:45 into the contest.

The RedHawks (8-5) tied it with 11:56 left in the second period when Karch Bachman carried the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot around his defender and into the top left corner.

But Colorado College regained the lead eight minutes later when Erik Middendorf one-timed a pass home from Alex Berardinelli. Berardinelli had grabbed a loose puck at the blue line after Zach LaValle tried to pass up ice and had his stick shatter.

The Tigers were whistled for overlapping penalties early in the third, creating a 46-second two-man advantage for Miami, but the RedHawks were unable to generate the equalizer.

STATS: Bachman has scored in consecutive games for the second time this season and leads the team in goals with five.

— Gilling picked up his sixth point in his last six, as he is 1-5-6 in that stretch. Larkin earned his first point since Oct. 28, 2017 with his secondary assist.

— Larkin has allowed exactly two goals in each of his last three games, stopping 90 of 96 shots in that span (.938).

— Miami extended its winless streak vs. Colorado College to four games. The RedHawks are 0-3-1 against the Tigers dating back to Nov. 3, 2017.

— MU outshot its opponents in eight of its first nine games, but its foes have more shots than the RedHawks in their last four. Colorado College edged out Miami, 31-30 in this contest.

THOUGHTS: Like last weekend, the RedHawks weren’t ready for this one as they were dominated early.

That resulted in a 1-0 CC lead, and while Miami tied it, a bad-luck goal by the Tigers ultimately sealed it.

In six Friday games this season the RedHawks have only scored three first-period goals, so the slow series starts are becoming a concern. A poor start to the North Dakota series eliminated any chance of a Miami win last Friday.

— We’ve been saying it all season, but how about the improvement by Bachman? He was 1-on-1 entering the zone and still ripped it home for his goal. He’s now winning battles in the corners and regularly forcing turnovers.

— He was well defended in The decisive goal was pretty unlucky for Miami, as LaValle’s stick broke while he was trying to send the puck out of his zone, but instead it ended up in the RedHawks’ net.

— Gilling was limited to one point his first seven games but has six in his last six. He has really upped his game at every level in recent weeks.

— Interesting that Coach Enrico Blasi is playing the two huge freshmen D-men, Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard, on the same pairing.

LINEUP CHANGES: Unfortunately, Phil Knies was not in the lineup for the first time in his career. He suffered an upper-body injury early in last Saturday’s win over North Dakota.

Sinard dressed in his second straight game for the first time this season, and Carter Johnson has now missed consecutive contests.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami has to realize that it can’t just show up for the final 40 minutes and hope to win.

The RedHawks spotted Colorado College the first 20 minutes and the teams were basically even the last two periods, but that 1-0 difference in the opening stanza was the difference.

Relatively speaking, Miami has had it pretty easy to open NCHC play – the RedHawks played UNO, which has won two games, and North Dakota before heading to Colorado Springs to face a team that was previously 0-4 in the league – and MU is just 2-3 in conference play.

Preview: Miami at Colorado College

Colorado College and Miami have been the two least successful teams since the formation of the NCHC, but both are on upswings and could challenge for NCAA berths next spring as well as make runs at all-important home-ice seeds for the first round of the conference tournament.

The Tigers were 4-1-1 before their brutal start to the league schedule, as they dropped their first four NCHC games against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth and are still looking for their first league win of 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Miami split both of its opening series in conference play and are looking to make an early move in the ultra-competitive NCHC.

BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:

WHO: No. 20 Miami RedHawks (8-4) at Colorado College Tigers (4-5-1).

WHERE: World Arena (7,380), Colorado Springs, Colo.

WHEN: Friday – 10:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 9-7-2.

LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: Colorado College, 2-1-1. Nov. 3 – Miami, 3-2, OT; Nov. 4 – Colorado College, 2-1; Jan. 26 – Colorado College, 6-3; Jan. 27 – Tie, 4-4.

COLORADO COLLEGE RADIO: Both nights – KRDO-FM (105.5 and 92.5) and KRDO-AM (1240), Colorado Springs, Colo.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

TELEVISION: Friday – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (DirecTV Ch. 683, Dish Network Ch. 414).

NOTES: Colorado College opened NCHC play by facing the top two teams in Division I the past two weekends — St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth — and were outscored, 15-5 in four losses.

The Tigers have been well balanced in their scoring early this season, with eight skaters averaging at least half a point per game.

Ten forwards have recorded at least four points for Colorado College, with Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley tied for the team lead at nine.

Alex Berardinelli is tops in Tigers goals with five, including two shorthanded, and Westin Michaud has scored four times and added three assists.

Grant Cruikshank (2-4-6), Mason Bergh (0-5-5) and Chris Wilkie (3-2-5) round out Colorado College’s scoring leaders, although Wilkie has missed the last four games.

Freshman Bryan Yoon leads the team in defenseman points with five, including one goal, and Kristian Blumenschein has four assists.

Andrew Farny, Ben Israel, Zach Berzolla and Alex Pernitsky have been the other regulars on the blueline.

Alex Leclerc has logged nine games in net and will likely start both games this weekend. He has a 2.62 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.

Amazingly, the Tigers have had 51 power play chances compared to 29 for their opponents and have scored 10 times on the man advantage as well as three shorthanded goals.

But Colorado College is just 72.4 percent on the penalty kill and has surrendered a pair of shorties.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Gordie Green has led the RedHawks by tallying 10 points in his last seven games, including five goals, and Josh Melnick has notched nine points in six games. Casey Gilling is 1-4-5 in his last five.

Miami is 7-for-26 (.269) on the power play the last seven games.

Two trends MU would like to reverse: The RedHawks have been outshot by an average of 14 SOG the last three games and have given up five third-period goals in that span.

Miami holds off UND for split

OXFORD, Ohio – Not only did Casey Gilling score the goal that put No. 19 Miami ahead for good, he assisted on the other two RedHawks tallies.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The sophomore’s three-point night powered MU to a 3-2 win over the No. 11 Fighting Hawks at Cady Arena on Saturday as the teams split their two-game weekend series.

Miami (8-4) snapped a two-game skid and ended UND’s winning streak at five.

RECAP: With 6:01 left in the first period, Gilling fired a shot from the right wing that hit off a skate and caromed to Josh Melnick at the left faceoff circle, and Melnick roofed it to give the RedHawks the early lead.

The Fighting Hawks’ Jordan Kawaguchi tied it when he took a one-time pass from Jasper Weatherby and whipped it past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin from the right faceoff circle just 3:38 into the third period.

That goal came seconds after Larkin had made a highlight-reel stop on a one-timer from the slot.

The RedHawks took the lead for good when Gilling deflected a blue line wrister from Derek Daschke with 10:23 left in regulation, giving MU a 2-1 lead.

Gilling fired a pass to Karch Bachman on the left wing, and Bachman blew past the defense and fired a shot under UND goalie Adam Scheel with 3:40 remaining, extending Miami’s lead to two.

The Fighting Hawks (5-3-1) cut the deficit to one with 22 seconds left as a wrister by Matt Kiersted hit Miami’s Brayden Crowder and bounced to Kawaguchi for his second goal of the night.

Kawaguchi had not previously scored this season.

STATS: Gilling’s three points ties a career high and he earned two assists for the first time in his career.

It was the third goal in six games for Melnick, and Bachman found the net for the first time in eight contests.

Larkin stopped a season-high 35 shots, as he made over 30 saves for just the second time in 2018-19.

THOUGHTS: Miami came out flat to start Friday but did not have that issue in this game.

The RedHawks earned this win against one of college hockey’s flagship programs during a supposed rebuilding year.

This is the biggest quality victory for Miami this season, which has seen MU beat a lot of downtrodden teams.

— And the crowds are coming back. This was the best of 2018-19 in terms of numbers and intensity, and UND’s vocal contingent helped build this rivalry.

Miami’s so-called rebuild for this season seems to be happening more quickly than anticipated.

— Phil Knies was injured on a hit along the boards, and he may miss some games to a resulting upper-body injury.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Much better puck possession by this corps than Friday, when UND put on a clinic. We mention the top guys all the time, but Zach LaValle has really stood out in his opportunities. River Rymsha jumped up from the blue line to anchor the Melnick-Gordie Green line.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. North Dakota generated a lot of scoring chances against the defense corps, not surprising considering the Fighting Hawks’ resume. With Knies being injured, Brayden Crowder and Andrew Sinard played together for a 13-feet, 1-inch pairing, and both stood out. Crowder made multiple key defensive plays with his stick and Sinard used his backside to impede opponents and shut down a UND breakaway with his backchecking.

GOALTENDING: A-. Larkin stopped 36 shots, and the the two goals he allowed were on a cross-crease one-timer and a fluky bounce off a blocked shot. Seconds prior to the first UND goal Larkin flashed the pad on a 2-on-1 for his best save of the season.

LINEUP CHANGES: LaValle was back in up front and Sinard was in the lineup as the extra skater.

F Carter Johnson and D Chaz Switzer did not dress.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami has played one-third of its games and has a record of 8-4.

Yes, the team schedule hasn’t been as strong but any sane person would’ve taken a .667 winning percentage to this point if asked about it prior to the season.

Miami has also brought its recently-dormant crowd back into the mix, giving it another advantage as the RedHawks enter the crux of their schedule.

Slow start vs. Denver dogs Miami

Denver had three power play chances in the first period and scored on two of them.

The Pioneers added another goal early in the second period for a three-goal lead it would not relinquish in Friday’s 6-3 DU win over Miami at Magnuss Arena.

The RedHawks (11-18-4) did pull to within a goal in the closing minutes but No. 5 Denver punched in a pair of late markers to seal the win.

Miami has lost 10 straight March games and is 0-9 in this month the past three seasons. The RedHawks are 0-7-1 on the road since their last victory outside of Oxford on Dec. 8, and they have a 2-10-2 overall record in their last 14 games.

RECAP: It was the Dylan Gambrell show early.

The DU forward scored on the backhand from the slot to open the scoring, and his shot from the same area was tipped in by Jarid Lukosevicius to make it 2-0.

Rudy Junda extended the DU lead to three when he took a behind-the-net feed from Kolin Olischefski, was denied by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and batted home the rebound.

The RedHawks cut the deficit to two when Kiefer Sherwood knocked home a one-time pass from Phil Knies on a 3-on-1.

With 10:14 left in the second period, Logan O’Connor centered a pass to Henrik Borgstrom, and the puck hit off Borgstrom’s skate and into the net, making it 4-1.

Miami trimmed the lead to two with five minutes remaining in regulation when Conor Lemirande penetrated the zone and had his pass into the slot hit a Denver player and carrom in.

The RedHawks’ Casey Gilling’s feed also hit a Pioneers defender, deflecting off a stick and into the net with 3:57 remaining.

But a seeing-eye shot from the blue line by Adam Plant found the cage with 2:23 left to make it 5-3, and Colin Staub capped the scoring with an empty netter.

STATS: Slow starts have been the norm for Miami in recent weeks, as the team has been outscored, 9-0 in the first period its last seven games.

Miami’s Rourke Russell (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The RedHawks also have not scored a power play goal in that seven-game span, going 0-for-22 on the man advantage.

Denver (18-8-7) had five power play chances, scoring on two of them. Miami was on the man advantage once.

— It was the first career multi-point game for Rourke Russell, who picked up two assists.

— Sherwood has scored in consecutive games for the second time this season and has a team-best three-game points streak.

— Gilling scored for the first time in seven games. Lemirande had not scored in his last 25 contests.

THOUGHTS: Did we mention the early power play goals for Denver?

An opponent just can’t give the Pioneers three chances in the first period and expect to win, especially on their home ice.

Then it was 3-0, and that pretty much sealed Miami’s fate for the night.

To the RedHawks’ credit, they battled until the end, trimming a 4-1 Denver lead to one before ultimately surrendering a fifth goal followed by an empty netter.

Being an early no-show has been a theme for Miami this season and is a tough way to make a living in the ultra-competitive NCHC.

— Both early goals were scored because Denver was allowed to control the slot. Gambrell skated laterally to get in there for his goal, and he did the same from the opposite direction on goal No. 2, which was tipped in by Lukosevicius – a player allowed to camp out at the top of the crease.

— It was a strange night for redirected pucks. Miami had one go in off a skate and another hit a stick, as both completely changed direction en route to the net.

One could argue the RedHawks got somewhat lucky in getting back into the game, since those consecutive goals took the score from 4-1 to 4-3.

To be fair, Denver also scored one – its fourth of the night – when a centering feed hit Borgstrom’s skate before finding its mark.

LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, Christian Mohs dressed for just the eighth time this year, and Zach LaValle was in the lineup for only the second time in eight contests.

Carson Meyer was the notable scratch, as the Columbus Blue Jackets draftee has struggled this season. It’s the second time he has not played this season. Willie Knierim was also out of the lineup.

No changes on defense.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Officially these games mean nothing for Miami, which has one clear route to the NCAA Tournament: Beat St. Cloud next week and win the NCHC Tournament.

But it would’ve been nice if there were more positives to be taken from this game.

The RedHawks did battle after falling behind by three, which is admirable in an essentially meaningless game, and Sherwood continues to shine after a sub-par first half.

That’s the boom from this one.

The negatives: Opponents didn’t pay a price in the slot – a recurring theme – the team got off to a slow start, etc.

Ideally, it would be nice to have momentum heading into the opening round of the conference tournament. Denver and SCSU are the elite of the elite in this conference, and Miami needs to show it can compete on the road against Division I’s best.

Unfortunately, this game did little to inspire confidence.

Miami scores 7, loses by 4

In a game that saw half of Nebraska-Omaha’s skaters find the net, it was only appropriate that the final tally was credited to goalie Evan Weninger.

That capped off the Mavericks’ 11-7 win over Miami at Baxter Arena on Friday, as UNO set a school record for goals and the RedHawks gave up their highest total in over two decades.

Down 4-1 early, Miami battled back to within one and continued to fight – at least offensively – until the final horn. But MU could never generate the equalizer.

This was certainly not the way the RedHawks wanted to start a stretch of four straight road games as they hang on the PairWise bubble.

RECAP: For a game that featured 18 goals, believe it or not none were scored in the first 10 minutes.

Grant Gallo and Jake Rudolph netted consecutive markers to make it 2-0, and after Miami’s Kiefer Sherwood scored on the power play, UNO potted two more in a 41-second window to close out the first period with a three-goal lead, with Tristan Keck and Joel Messner hitting the net.

The RedHawks (9-10-2) cut it to one on a blue-line blast by Louie Belpedio and a freshman-to-freshman connection of Phil Knies to Ben Lown.

But four more shots found their way in the final seven minutes of the middle stanza, with three coming by the Mavericks, sandwiching Knies’ second marker of the night.

Gordie Green scored off a Karch Bachman feed early in the third period, but it was the final gasp for Miami. Back-to-back UNO goals seven seconds apart made it a four-goal game, although Lown and Casey Gilling did record goals for the RedHawks in the final 11 minutes of regulation.

MU goalie Ryan Larkin was lifted after allowing six goals, and backup Chase Munroe was actually credited with the loss for giving up the final four, even though Miami never tied the score.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

STATS: The RedHawks were actually the Redskins the last time they allowed this many goals in a game. MU lost, 13-0 at Michigan on Dec. 6, 1996, and had never surrendered double-digit goals under current coach Enrico Blasi.

– A pair of freshmen – Lown and Knies – set career bests with three points each. Knies scored twice and Lown went 1-2-3. Grant Hutton picked up three assists, also his high total as a RedHawk.

– Gilling and Sherwood both extended their points streaks to four games, tied for the longest on the team.

– Miami scored three times on the power play, reaching that mark for the fourth time this season.

– The flip side? The RedHawks had not given up more than two PPGs in any game in 2017-18. They allowed four on six chances in this game.

– Seven Miami players finished with multiple points. Ten picked up at least one point. Four Mavericks ended the night with at least four points.

– The three goalies’ combined save percentages were .707. Their goals-against averages were 8.76.

THOUGHTS: Where to start…

Oh I know, how about Miami’s complete lack of defense? Bill Clinton was in his first term as president the last time the RedHawks gave up this many goals in a game.

There’s plenty of blame to go around in this area. They won 46 percent of their faceoffs, losing some key ones in the offensive zone that led to goals. A common theme, too few UNO players paid any kind of price for setting up at the top of Miami’s crease.

One Nebraska-Omaha goal – forgive me for not being to recall which one of the 18 it was – saw a player carry the puck from behind the Miami net to the side of the cage and take a shot and a follow-up backhand that went in with no red jersey in sight.

Too many blown assignments, with UNO players not picked up in Miami’s offensive zone.

And there’s 22 of 32 shots saved by the netminders. Ryan Larkin had an off-night for sure, going just 15-for-21, but Chase Munroe looked rusty as well, stopping only 7 out of 11. It was Munroe’s first appearance of the regular season, although he did play in the exhibition vs. Team USA in mid-October.

Miami has built a reputation of defensive excellence under Blasi, but D definitely took the night off.

Want some positives?

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Freshmen combined for nine points, with Knies and Lown tallying three each, Gilling picking up two and Alec Mahalak notching an assist. All seem to be getting better as the season progresses.

– Sherwood’s four-game point streak is inspiring, as he seems to have shifted into a higher gear recently. He had picked up points in just three of Miami’s first 17 games and had seven overall after that span. Sherwood went 14-24-38 last season, tied for the team lead in goals and second in both assists and points.

LINEUP CHANGES: Two up front and one on defense.

Ryan Siroky sat for the first time since early October, as did Austin Alger, who had dressed for the last four. Willie Knierim was back on the ice after being scratched last Saturday, and Christian Mohs occupied the last forward spot, logging just his seventh game of 2017-18.

Rourke Russell was benched for just the third time this season. Grant Frederic, who had been out of the lineup three straight contests, took his place.

FINAL ANALYSIS: It would be tough to imagine the coaching staff being anything but irate after this effort.

Granted Miami did continue to fight after falling behind three early, but falling behind three early ultimately led to the RedHawks’ demise.

Grant Valentine didn’t exude confidence based on his relief appearance in net earlier this season, and Munroe, ditto.

That’s a problem, because if Larkin gets hurt or struggles in a game, Miami’s choices are limited.

Of course, we’d expect Valentine and/or Munroe to play better if either was called upon on more of a regular basis, but it’s pretty obvious that barring injury the odds are Larkin will start every regular season game.

Miami is now under .500 for the first time since late November, and its path to the NCAA Tournament will become smaller with each loss down the stretch.

Outmatched Miami held off Denver

OXFORD, Ohio – Despite being outshot by more than a 2-to-1 margin, Miami found a way to hold off No. 5 Denver.

Three times the RedHawks led by two goals but saw that margin shrink to one each time as they escaped with a 4-3 win over the Pioneers at Cady Arena on Friday.

Denver (11-6-4) practically played keep-away with the puck all night, won the overwhelming majority of battles to loose pucks, had a better passing game, etc.

Miami (9-8-2) was outplayed in pretty much every aspect except the one that counts: Scoring goals.

The final shot total was 47-19 in favor of the Pioneers, and the disparity was amazingly consistent: DU 16-16-15, Miami 6-7-6.

RECAP: Casey Gilling scored 70 seconds in after a strange carom off the boards left him with the puck alone in front of a wide-open net.

Freshman defenseman Rourke Russell slammed home a rebound early in the second period to make it 2-0.

Denver cut the lead to one later that frame, but Miami went back up by two when Josh Melnick made a ridiculous behind-the-back pass to Gilling for a blast from the top of the faceoff circle.

That made it 3-1, and the Pioneers again cut the lead to one before Louie Belpedio ripped one home directly off a faceoff win by Melnick.

Denver scored again late and nearly tied it in the closing seconds.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

STATS: Gilling finished with two goals and an assist for a career-best three points, and he was 11-6 on faceoffs. Melnick picked up a pair of helpers on each of the critical late goals. Goalie Ryan Larkin stopped 44 shots.

Dylan Gambrell scored twice on 12 – yes, 12 – shots on goal to pace Denver.

Miami was 2-for-4 on the power play and held the Pioneers to 0-for-5.

THOUGHTS: The process may have been ugly from a Miami perspective, but this Denver team is easily the best the RedHawks has hosted all year. The Pioneers’ skating, speed, defense and finishing ability shined in this game, and they are far more skilled than MU.

But despite being outmatched and not playing its best, Miami still found a way to win.

The RedHawks will need to beat a lot of ranked teams down the stretch if they hope to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

From an entertainment perspective this game ranked as one of the best at Cady Arena this season, as Denver came close to tying it a couple of times in the closing moments.

– Gilling is quickly moving up the Miami forward depth chart. He now has 11 points, with six coming in the last five games, and his hockey IQ extremely high. His faceoff percentage is top on the team.

– Despite being in the J-term, the RedHawks’ brought in a “sold-out” crowd of 2,277 without a student section. The university bought its tickets and gave them to faculty, which could potentially add new fans, especially with the excitement level of this game.

– We’re tweaking the write-up format a little so we can get to the key points quicker, make for easier reading and try to conserve a limited amount of weekend free time. And we’re coming to the conclusion that if we can’t pump out a gamer within a few hours of the final whistle it serves little purpose. So we’re going with one story with the recap included. Reader input is always welcome.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. As is too often the case, Miami just doesn’t get much contribution by forwards not named Melnick or Gordie Green, and it’s now safe to throw Gilling into that list. Conor Lemirande played a lot on the PK and had a solid game overall. He picked up an assist and went plus-1. This corps finished with just 10 shots.

Miami’s Rourke Russell (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

DEFENSEMEN: C+. The good: Belpedio scored the eventual game winner, Russell also found the net and blocked six shots. The bad: Overall this corps was unable to contain Denver’s super-talented forwards, who were able to skate around in Miami’s offensive zone seemingly at will. Chaz Switzer added three blocks including a critical one in the final minute that may have prevented a goal.

GOALTENDING: A-. Rarely does a goalie deserve this high of a grade after allowing three goals, but Larkin made 44 saves for a .936 save percentage, and without a strong presence in net Miami would’ve lost for sure. Didn’t get a great look at the first Denver goal but the second and third ones were nearly unstoppable.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. This is the second straight game in which the same 19 were on the lineup card.

WRAP-UP: Miami was held to its second-lowest shot total of the season and allowed 13 more SOG than in any game of 2017-18 and was able to beat the fifth-ranked team in Division I.

The hockey gods were with the RedHawks in this one.

Cornell shuts out Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Special teams are the main reason Miami won on Friday, but a night later they were the RedHawks’ nemesis.

No. 5 Cornell scored three times in the first 13 minutes and handed Miami its first shutout of the season, 4-0 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

The Big Red (10-2) netted goals on each of their first two power plays, added a third tally 35 seconds after that second PPG and tacked on an empty netter. They were perfect on three penalty kills.

On Friday, the RedHawks scored just two times with both goals coming on the man advantage, and they were 4-for-4 on the PK.

At the 9:24 mark of the first period, Cornell’s Anthony Angello skated from behind the goal line to the outside edge of the faceoff circle and whipped a low shot that snuck through the pads of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin.

A wrist shot from the blue line by the Big Red’s Yanni Kaldis was deflected by Trevor Yates and past Larkin just 2:37 after the first goal.

And 38 seconds after that, Kyle Bettis netted his first career goal, ripping one home from the slot off a centering feed by Alex Rauter.

That put Miami (7-7-2) down three against a fifth-ranked Cornell team that came into the game allowing 2.00 goals per game.

The RedHawks actually outshot the Big Red, 18-13 the final 40 minutes but could not solve goalie Hayden Stewart, who played the third period on Friday in relief.

He finished with 26 saves and his first shutout of the season. It was the first time Miami had been blanked since Jan. 21 vs. Nebraska-Omaha.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak for MU, which fell back to .500.

Casey Gilling received a misconduct penalty in the second period, the team’s fifth 10-minute penalty in five games. Miami has been assessed 113 penalty minutes in its last five games.

The RedHawks completed their non-conference schedule as well as their 2017 home slate. They travel to Western Michigan next weekend to wrap up the pre-Christmas Break portion of their schedule.